I absolutely love my work as a professional coach and mentor. The range of challenges and ambitions people present is hugely varied but at the heart of much of what we want to achieve is not only fulfillment and success but also the need to find the right kind of directed energy to make positive things happen.
Two stories come to mind: The first is the story of “The Sleeping Cow”. I was driving back home one balmy summer day having been out for an early morning ride. I came to a halt in a mini-traffic jam in a picturesque New Forest hamlet. Nothing much was happening just cars lining up patiently to wait… and wait… and wait. As I got out of my car I could see what was causing the hold up. There in the middle of the road was a sleeping cow doing what animals here in the New Forest often do – hang around on hot tarmac as a relief from forest flies. She was profoundly ignoring the consternation around her and the hands waving about out of car windows. Impasse. So I focused my energy, trotted up to her and shouted at her to ‘get up out of the road’. Low and behold, in an instant she leaped up onto the grass verge out of danger, and the traffic flowed again.
This incident really made me think about how we are sometimes such social creatures that we are reluctant to step away from our reassuring little crowd and challenge our own inertia. However sometimes it behoves us to show a bit of initiative to unblock the logjam in our lives. Many of us are as oblivious as ‘the sleeping cow’ to our own powers for changing things for the better in our lives.
I think all sorts of magical things can happen when we find a way of focusing our intentionality and directing multiple energies (psychological, physical and spiritual) to that which we seek to change. You might never move mountains but you can certainly move ‘half a ton of cow out of the road’. As for the cow, she would’ve wandered back onto the crown of the road safe in the knowledge that the traffic will almost certainly queue around her, patiently waiting for her siesta to finish.
The second story is that of the “Frog and the Scorpion” told to me by one of my coachees at a recent session. It goes something like this. The frog and the scorpion have each set out on a journey, however they have come up against a barrier to their respective progress – a strong river. The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across but the frog says “But surely you’ll sting me?” to which the scorpion replies, “If I did that then we’d both die”. So the kindly frog plunges in with the scorpion clinging on. Halfway through the river crossing the scorpion stings the frog. “What did you do that for, now we’ll both die” to which the scorpion replied, “Sorry, but it’s my nature”.
This is a great analogy for remembering that we as human beings don’t have to be prey to our negative natures. It’s something that’s taken me decades to master, ie that I don’t always need to overreact to certain negative experiences in the ‘same old way’ – akin to flight, fright or freeze mode. It comes with the realization that unlike other species, we have other aspects to our brain functioning that can learn to counter our negative natures.
I’ve written about this before, and this realization – alongside improved self-awareness – can offer a much-improved response to challenging situations. And indeed can really help build resilience and better quality thoughts and behaviours.
… so when you next spot a cow, a frog or a scorpion, you might pause to think and feel differently about what it is to be truly human.
… and if you have a half ton sleeping cow lying in the road that is your life, or a scorpion riding on the back of your hopes and dreams, then call me on 07760 270 392. It might make all the difference in the world.